I heard the buzz about the movie Don’t Look Up. The sci-fi plot intrigued me.
Two astronomers spot a Mount Everest-size comet on course to hit Earth in six months. It’s bigger than the astroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. This comet will obliterate all planetary life—unless something is done. And soon.
I figured the movie would be good since it was directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman) and featured a star-studded cast. So I watched it. It was good but not great.
Dr. Strangelove (1964) was funnier. The Day After (1983) was scarier. An Inconvenient Truth (2006) was more sobering.
Still, despite some sophomoric moments, Don’t Look Up conveys a serious message: BE AFRAID. Be afraid of what can destroy the planet. And be afraid of humankind’s ignorance and apathy. Wake up before it’s too late!
Madam President, a comet will hit Earth in six months and destroy all life.
How certain are you?
Well, that’s not one-hundred percent. So there you go. I have more important things to do.
And so it goes. Until …
I was raised on apocalypticism. As I child I heard preachers proclaim that Jesus was coming back very soon to rapture born-again Christians into heaven. Everybody else would be left behind to endure great tribulation. (This is—weirdly—called “The Blessed Hope.”)
In grade school I did duck-under-the-desk drills in case a nuclear bomb hit. For Y2K I stored water and canned food.
None of us are immune to apocalyptic fears. It’s in our collective DNA.
Once upon a time God told Noah to build an ark. A deluge was coming, and all life on the planet would be destroyed. It’s a morality tale: Those who ignored or denied the dire warning perished.
That mythic tale is followed by another: “The Tower of Babel.”
Once upon a time all humans gathered to build something great, a tower reaching toward heaven. They nearly succeeded until the gods inflicted them with “babbling” tongues. Suddenly they couldn’t understand each other.
“So they stopped building.” (One of the saddest verses in the Bible.)
Traditionally, Babel is considered a morality tale about human hubris. I see it differently. I see it as a story of hope: When humans cooperate we can accomplish great things.
We have. And we can.
But can is not will.
See Paula’s photo (Oregon Seastacks) on the home page. Posted January 23.